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Archaeology (Research): Prehistoric Farming Communities

The Prehistoric Farming Communities track focuses on the Later Prehistory in Western Europe, especially on communities bordering the North Sea (Scandinavia, Low Countries, France, Great Britain and Ireland). Of course, their connections with the remainder of Europe are studied as well. In this track 3 researchers work together and bring in their own specific interests. Prof. Fokkens works on Beaker Cultures, and on settlements of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, prof. Sørensen (Cambridge and Leiden) contributes her work on cultural identity, and dr. Fontijn his expertise on burial ritual and (selective) deposition.
Our challenge is to bring these ideas together and try to develop a detailed but coherent view of past communities. Theory is important, but we always work with data and try to approach these data from different angles.


Students of the research master track in Prehistoric Farming Communities should not be afraid to think outside the box. You will be challenged to develop your own ideas, never follow trodden paths blindly. Examples of questions that we will raise are: how did past communities construct their identities in relation to other communities, for instance through burial ritual, but also through deposition practices? What were important aspects of Bronze Age and Iron Age cosmologies? Are the dominant views on the social structure of farming communities challengeable? How was movement of people and goods around Europe possible?
We may not have answers to all these questions, but by thinking about them and by discussing various approaches to these problems, the study of the past definitely becomes a challenge. And that is what we try to achieve.


Classes in the Prehistoric Farming Communities track all have the form of seminars in which we study current issues and research problems. You will have to write several short research papers, and present and discuss your views on data and theory. But you can also participate in field schools and in ongoing research projects. An excursion to monumental landscapes is an integral part of the programme.


Coordinators for the RMA specialisation in Prehistoric Farming Communities: prof. dr. Harry Fokkens, dr. David Fontijn.